Roland JSQ-60 DCB Digital Keyboard Recorder
E&MM contributor of old, Vince S. Hill, on Roland's DCB-standard digital keyboard recorder.
The JSQ-60 is a polyphonic sequencer featuring the Digital Communication Bus (DCB) standard, and can therefore link directly to the Juno 60 and Jupiter 8, both of which have DCB. If your JP8 is prior to serial number 282879, you should contact your Roland dealer for modifications.
The sequencer can be loaded in either Step Load or Real Time mode, and when in the latter mode it is possible to overdub up to three times over the first sequence. The unit is small, compact and well defined, and all the controls are legible and easy to understand.
The JSQ-60 is powered by a DC 9V adaptor and when the power is switched on the Load Mode lights up in the 4/4 LED. For Real Time processing you have three selections which are changed from the Mode Select button, 4/4, 3/4 and Overdub.
Loading is quite straight forward; the Mode selector next to the power switch is for Play Only which protects stored memory, Load/Play and Tape. Having set this selector to Load/Play, the memory is at your disposal. If you change this selector lever whilst the unit is running then the stored data will erase - so take care! If the Load or Play indicators are blinking then you press Reset, having chosen 4/4 or 3/4, press Load and away you go.
The Metronome will give a measure of beats visually and aurally before the Load is fully engaged, and there are two levels of Metronome and Off. To stop loading, press Stop and the process will continue to the last note of that measure - the Load indicator will then begin blinking. If you wish to listen to the recorded sequence, press Reset and Play.
Overdubbing is possible only in Real Time: by selecting the Overdub Load Mode and pressing Load you will hear your first sequence while you layer on top. Overdub Load engages after the fifth metronome pulse and automatically ceases at the end of the base data, so think about your endings! If you're using the Juno 60, as I did, you can load six notes maximum at any one moment, though with the JP 8 you can load eight.
To indicate the remaining capacity of the memory, there's a five-way LED line going from 25% to Full. The individual LEDs light up as the memory is used and if Full is shown, the data will stop at the end of the measure.
Step loading is just as simple, by selection of one of the three step-timing values - quaver, quaver linked to triplet and semiquaver - which you choose as the shortest timing value equalling one step. To add to these are Tie, Rest and Measure End buttons which I'll explain in a moment (or a few steps). Every time you enter a chord, rest or single note the metronome sounds and advances one step - when a bar line is written the metronome sounds with an accent but there is no step advancement.
Tie allows the step length to be lengthened and in doing so the note value increases, so if you're in semiquaver mode and you wish to enter a crotchet chord, you play the cord, release the keys and press the Tie button three times. Similarly, if inputting a Rest command of a crotchet you would press Rest four times as the shortest value is a semi-quaver or a 16th note.
There are a couple of extra things you can do with the Tie button whilst actually playing the notes. If you wish to have a passage phrased with Legato you can play/input the first note of the line then keep the Tie button depressed and play the remaining notes. This can be combined with Tying and Legato together.
Playing in Step as opposed to Real Time offers so many new directions that your music and composing/arranging can take, but it's best to have a clear idea of what you are trying to do: if you're copying a bass-line or music from sheet music, you've got to know how to adapt the score for the JSQ to comprehend it.
Measure End is used to load bar lines; you might feel this process is a waste of time but if you wish to edit or add data you will find it almost impossible without it. In monophonic steps the JSQ-60 can input about 2,000 notes, and if the maximum memory is exceeded, the Memory Indicator Full LED lights up and no further loading can be accomplished. You will never be able to make a mistake regarding the loading process, because when you do the Memory Indicator flashes and beeps wildly at you!
The JSQ-60 allows editing by stopping the sequence just before the required measure and re-entering. This is where the bar lines are useful in Step Load mode, as the data will not stop playing until the very end, even if Stop is pressed, so you cannot edit data in the middle of a sequence.
Continue Load is the ability to continue entering data after a sequence has been stopped. This can be done by Loading instead of Resetting or, alternatively, you can change and so combine different Load Modes together in one sequence. When in Overdubbing mode, Continue Load is not possible, and this is also true when the Memory Indicator shows Full: if you exceed the maximum memory capacity during Continue Load after playback or overdubbing it will erase the existing data.
The JSQ-60 can Save, Verify and Load onto audio tape for retrieval of your sequence information. Using the cassette interfaces on synthesisers, sequencers and drum units, you've got to follow certain basic rules, otherwise you may not get verification of Saving/Loading.
Use new and high quality tapes - C15s if you can get them - check the playback level of the tape recorder and adjust it to suit this purpose, check your connections and, if you can, use the same tape recorder for Saving and Loading. Before you do all of these things, clean and demagnetise the head(s).
It is possible for the JSQ-60 to memorise the Patch Shift of the Juno 60 and load Patch presets on the JP8; this is due to the Juno 60 not receiving keyboard information, while still being able to transmit it. As I did not have a DP-2 pedal I couldn't check this out, but I'm assuming it works.
The rear panel houses the DCB connector, Patch Shift out and in, Start/Stop pedal in and the DC 9V in. In addition, there are mini tape outputs for Load and Save which can double for monitoring by headphones, plus two Sync 5-pin outputs for linking to the TR-and CR-series rhythm units and anything that features Sync In (DIN).
So that's the JSQ-60. I did try this unit via the Roland MD-8 DCB-MIDI interface and hooked it up with a JP8, Siel Opera 6 and Korg Poly 800, with some interesting results - but that's another article!
It is really easy to use, and once familiar (it doesn't take long!) will be a valuable musical friend to you for some time to come. The retail price of £250.00 makes sequencing even more beautiful.
Further information on the JSQ-60 can be had from Roland (UK) Ltd., (Contact Details).
Review by Vince S. Hill
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